SUV driver in fatal crash crossed the centerline

An SUV strayed into the oncoming lane and struck a car in Andover, killing a man driving the smaller vehicle, according to authorities.

The crash occurred about 2:10 p.m. Monday along Round Lake Boulevard near 174th Avenue, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities have yet to release the identity of the man who died or of the woman driving the SUV.

The SUV was heading north on Round Lake Boulevard, crossed the centerline of the two-lane road and hit the car head-on, the Sheriff’s Office added.

The man was dead at the scene. The woman was taken to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids with unknown injuries.

Paul Walsh


Pine County

Lightning strike kills man in puddle under tree

A 53-year-old man in Sturgeon Lake was killed Monday night after he was struck by lightning as he stood in a puddle under a tree, according to the Pine County Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement officers and first responders were called about 7:35 p.m. Monday to an address on Alder Loop in Sturgeon Lake, which is about 50 miles south of Duluth. The caller said that a man had been struck by lightning and CPR was in progress.

The victim, who has not been identified pending the notification of relatives, was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, where he died from his injuries.

Further investigation showed that the man had been standing in a large puddle of water near a tree when he and the tree were struck by lightning. Thunderstorms had started rolling through the area about 6 p.m. Monday.

There have been 238 fatalities in the United States from lightning from 2006 to 2012, according to a recent study by the National Weather Service.

Jim Anderson



Worker dies after touching power line

A worker behind a multiunit residence in south Minneapolis touched a power line while installing gutters, was shocked and died last week, officials said Tuesday.

Ryan C. Mastracchio, 34, of Plymouth, was killed Thursday afternoon while working behind the residence in the 3200 block of Grand Avenue S., according to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office.

Electrocutions are one of the more unusual causes of work-related deaths in Minnesota, according to state safety officials. Mastracchio’s is the first this year in the state and the eighth since 2008. By comparison over the same time period, 24 people have died in falls and 23 have died from being crushed.

Mastracchio was shocked shortly before 3 p.m. when he “was up on a ladder and installing a downspout that was next to the power line,” Minneapolis police spokeswoman Cyndi Barrington said. “At some point, [the] victim touched or grabbed the power line and was electrocuted.”

Mastracchio died at Hennepin County Medical Center less than an hour later, the medical examiner’s office said.

Xcel spokesman Tom Hoen said workers should always stay at least 10 feet away from overhead electric lines.

James Honerman, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, said his agency continues to investigate.

Mastracchio was a standout linebacker on the Wayzata High School football team in the mid-1990s, according to his family. Among his survivors are three children.

Paul Walsh



Homicide suspect’s children are found safe

Authorities have safely located the three young children of the Shorewood woman accused of killing her boyfriend at their home.

Jetaun Wheeler, 29, was charged Monday with killing her 58-year-old boyfriend Aug. 1, beating him up with a closet rod, wrapping him in plastic and duct tape and stuffing him into a freezer.

Wheeler, a mother of three children believed to be 10, 8 and 7, was arrested last Thursday, but authorities said they didn’t know where her children were. On Tuesday, South Lake Minnetonka Police said the children were found and put in protective custody with Hennepin County Child Protection.

The Hennepin County medical examiner has not yet identified the victim, who had told family and friends he was leaving Wheeler to go to Chicago. Wheeler, who authorities said has been uncooperative, went to high school in Chicago and has lived in Duluth.




Woman charged in Lake Street stabbing death

A 26-year-old woman was charged Tuesday with second-degree intentional murder for allegedly stabbing another woman with a hunting knife during an argument along E. Lake Street in Minneapolis.

Yolanda L. Smith, address unknown, is accused of repeatedly stabbing Catherine Banks, 39, of Minneapolis about 3 a.m. on Aug. 21 near Lake and 5th Avenue S.

A criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court alleges the killing happened this way:

The two were arguing when the victim pushed the suspect in the forehead, and the two began shoving and wrestling. One witness told police of seeing the suspect reach behind her back, pull out a large hunting knife that unfolded and then stab the victim in the chest.

Witnesses said the suspect walked away.

The two women had been riding together in Minneapolis earlier in the day in a car owned by a witness to the slaying, the complaint says.

After days of looking for Smith, officers spotted her Sunday in the area of West River Road and Lake Street, but she ran into a heavily wooded area. They found her hiding under bushes and arrested her.